Now, I apologise if I sound like a bitch writing all of this, but this is life. But I’ve seen this talked about quite a bit and I’ve been mulling it over in my head.
When we were trying to get pregnant, with every failed attempt came a deeper sense of upset every time someone else announced that they were pregnant. Friend, family member, coworker, celebrity, random person walking past in the street... I have no doubt that this is a shared feeling with anyone trying to or wanting to become pregnant. I don’t believe it’s jealously, though it feels like it and looks like it, which is why it’s probably not really spoken about. I think most people agree that jealousy is a pretty ugly emotion. This isn’t jealousy.
Other people’s success is just a reminder that someone else is getting the life that you want. That you are striving for. Longing for. Crying yourself to sleep for. When fertility treatment gets thrown into the mix, it just makes that reminder a much sharper prod through the stomach.
I’m sure many experience it, over many others things too. You’re quickly scrolling through your Facebook feed killing time and you see a flash of an ultrasound scan, your heart stops, your stomach drops. You stop breathing. You skip past it in a blur. Breathe. Look around you like you’ve been caught out. Then you scroll back up to quickly see who it is. Are they are friend? Is it just a friend of a friend? Are they someone you don’t really know anymore? And then, without too much thought, you click the down arrow, hover over ‘Unfollow’ and click.
I’m not saying I’ve done this to everyone who gets pregnant. Some people are genuine friends, not just Facebook friends. Sometimes it doesn’t bother you that much. You can’t run and hide from everyone who reminds you of your sadness. Some you are obviously incredibly happy and excited for. They are family. You know them. You know their own struggles perhaps. But, regardless, you have the ability to censor what you see when mindlessly catching up on social media and through this journey you have to be a little bit selfish in order to protect yourself. After all, the fertility drugs, hormones, grieving a pregnancy you never got, wincing at oversized ovaries, the constant dehydration from the drugs, and everything else can get to you after a while… It’s all just a little exhausting.
Over the past three years, eight or so people at my work got pregnant. There is only fifty or so people who work at the company. And I’m HR. Needless to say, this was hard. It was like revolving door. You say goodbye to someone disappearing off on Maternity Leave, breathe, think you finally have some head space from it all, the constant reminders and then someone else announces… Don’t get me wrong, I am genuinely happy for people getting pregnant – you can’t hate what you want, after all. It’s just that work was my ‘safe place’ from it all – no one knew we were going through treatment, so I could, in theory – leave the tears and exhaustion in the car. Easier said than done.
I have no resentment to them or to their babies. It’s just like someone is kicking you, like kids in a playground go “na, na, na naaaa na”. Constantly. It takes all your strength to not burst into tears at every announcement. Or just on a random day when it’s all just a bit much. I failed at that, and spent many a time crying in the toilets, or even at my desk – masking it with fake yawning (anyone else do that?) and ducking behind computer screens.
My fertility counsellor at the clinic gave us permission to acknowledge the emotions you feel after a failed cycles as grief and it felt like such a relief. It’s a hard road, doing treatment. And someone validated that this was an acceptable emotion. I never understood it as that prior to this, but it really is a bereavement. Not quite like the one we are now living, but very recognisable as grief. A silent grief too.
When you finally get there, you get to have your time of thinking I got through this, we got pregnant. You can join this club you’ve watched from the outside, looking in, for so long. Waiting for your invite. You relax. I just ended up joining a very different club… The club I want to join seems to have a very strict entry policy – for us anyway.
I do feel less like this with other people getting pregnant now though, since Leo. Or at lest I do at the moment. I have a new sense of “that’s nice, I hope everything is okay” – people deserve their happiness, and those babies deserve to have their cries heard. That’s what I want. For me but for other people too.
This picture is Leo, at 21 weeks & we’d just found out that he was a boy!